Saint Jerome

quotes from Saint Jerome:→

Saint Jerome (342-420 A.D.), also known as Jerome of Stridon, was known for his teaching on asceticism, Christian morals, and the monastic life and is also recognized as one of the eight Great Doctors of the Church.  He is, however, probably best known for his translation of the Bible into Latin (the translation that became known as the Vulgate) and his commentaries on the whole Bible as he was fluent in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin.  As protege of the Pope Damasus I, Jerome was given duties in Rome, and he undertook a revision of the Vetus Latina Gospels based on Greek manuscripts. He also updated the Psalter containing the Book of Psalms then in use in Rome, based on the Septuagint. Prior to Jerome’s Vulgate, all Latin translations of the Old Testament were based on the Septuagint, not the Hebrew.

Jerome’s decision to use a Hebrew text instead of the previous-translated Septuagint went against the advice of most other Christians, including Augustine, who thought the Septuagint inspired.  In his Vulgate’s prologues, Jerome describes some portions of books in the Septuagint that were not found in the Hebrew as being non-canonical (he called them apocrypha, but the church would later refer to them as deutercanonical). Although Jerome was once suspicious of the Apocrypha, he later viewed them as Scripture. For example, in Jerome’s letter to Eustochium he quotes Sirach 13:2 and in his Epistle to Paulinus 58he refers to the Story of Susannah and Wisdom as scripture; “Do not, my dearest brother, estimate my worth by the number of my years. Gray hairs are not wisdom; it is wisdom which is as good as gray hairs at least that is what Solomon says: ‘wisdom is the gray hair unto men’ [Wisdom 4:9]. Moses too in choosing the seventy elders is told to take those whom he knows to be elders indeed, and to select them not for their years but for their discretion [Num. 11:16]? And, as a boy, Daniel judges old men and in the flower of youth condemns the incontinence of age [Daniel 13:55–59 aka Story of Susannah 55–59].” and in his Epistle To Oceanus 77:4 he does the same for Baruch; “I would cite the words of the psalmist: ‘the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,’ [Ps 51:17] and those of Ezekiel ‘I prefer the repentance of a sinner rather than his death,’ [Ez 18:23] and those of Baruch, ‘Arise, arise, O Jerusalem,’ [Baruch 5:5] and many other proclamations made by the trumpets of the Prophets.”

Extant Complete Writings:

  • Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary
  • To Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem
  • The Dialogue Against the Luciferians
  • Against Jovinianus
  • Against Vigilantius
  • Against the Pelagians
  • De Viris Illustribus (Illustrious Men)
  • Apology for himself against the Books of Rufinus
  • Letter to Monk Heliodorus (#14)
  • Letter to Pope Damasus (#15)
  • Letter to Pope Damasus (#16)
  • Letter to Pope Damasus (#18)
  • Letter from Pope Damasus (#19)
  • Letter to Pope Damasus (#20)
  • Letter from Pope Damasus (#35)
  • Letter to Pope Damasus (#36)
  • Letter to Pammachius (#48)
  • Letter to Pammachius (#49)
  • Letter from Epiphanius (#51)
  • Letter to Heliodorus (#60)
  • Letter to Pammachius (#66)

Quotes & Excerpts:

” ‘But since in the Law no one is justified before God, it is evident that the just man lives by faith.’ It should be noted that he does not say that a man, a person, lives by faith, lest it be thought that he is condemning good works. Rather, he says the ‘just’ man lives by faith. He implies thereby that whoever would be faithful and would conduct his life according to the faith can in no other way arrive at the faith or live in it except first he be a just man of pure life, coming up to the faith by certain degrees” (Commentaries on Galatians 2:3:11 [A.D. 386]).

“You say in your book that while we live we are able to pray for each other, but afterwards when we have died, the prayer of no person for another can be heard. . . . But if the apostles and martyrs while still in the body can pray for others, at a time when they ought still be solicitous about themselves, how much more will they do so after their crowns, victories, and triumphs?” (Against Vigilantius 6 [A.D. 406]).

“If all rational creatures are equal, and by their own free will are, in view of their virtues or their vices, either raised up to the heights or plunged down to the depths. . . how far apart will a virgin be from a whore? What difference between the Mother of the Lord and -it is impious to even say it- the victims of public licentiousness? Will Gabriel and the Devil be the same? The Apostles and the demons the same? The prophets and the pseudo-prophets the same? Martyrs and their persecutors the same?”
-Commentaries on Jonas 3:6 (Written in 394 A.D.)

“It is our task, according to our different virtues, to prepare for ourselves different rewards. . . . If we were all going to be equal in heaven it would be useless for us to humble ourselves here in order to have a greater place there. . . . Why should virgins persevere? Why should widows toil? Why should married women be content? Let us all sin, and after we repent we shall be the same as the apostles are!” (Against Jovinian 2:32 [A.D. 393]).

“[Helvidius] produces Tertullian as a witness [to his view] and quotes Victorinus, bishop of Petavium. Of Tertullian, I say no more than that he did not belong to the Church. But as regards Victorinus, I assert what has already been proven from the gospel—that he [Victorinus] spoke of the brethren of the Lord not as being sons of Mary but brethren in the sense I have explained, that is to say, brethren in point of kinship, not by nature. [By discussing such things we] are . . . following the tiny streams of opinion. Might I not array against you the whole series of ancient writers? Ignatius, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, and many other apostolic and eloquent men, who against [the heretics] Ebion, Theodotus of Byzantium, and Valentinus, held these same views and wrote volumes replete with wisdom. If you had ever read what they wrote, you would be a wiser man” (Against Helvidius: The Perpetual Virginity of Mary 19 [A.D. 383]).

“We believe that God was born of a virgin, because we read it. We do not believe that Mary was married after she brought forth her Son, because we do not read it. . . . You [Helvidius] say that Mary did not remain a virgin. As for myself, I claim that Joseph himself was a virgin, through Mary, so that a virgin Son might be born of a virginal wedlock” (ibid., 21).

“I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails” (Letter to Pope Damasus 15:2 [A.D. 396]).

“The church here is split into three parts, each eager to seize me for its own. . . Meanwhile I keep crying: ‘Whomever is joined to the chair of Peter will be accepted by me!’ Meletius, Vitalis, and Paulinus each claims to be loyal to you. . . Therefore I implore Your Blessedness by the cross of the Lord, by the necessary glory of our faith, the Passion of Christ -that as you follow the Apostles in dignity may you also follow them in worth- . . . tell me by letter with whom it is that I should communicate in Syria.”
-Letter to Pope Damasus 16:2 (Written in 374 A.D.).

“[Pope] Stephen . . . was the blessed Peter’s twenty-second successor in the See of Rome” (Against the Luciferians 23 [A.D. 383]).

“Clement, of whom the apostle Paul writing to the Philippians says ‘With Clement and others of my fellow-workers whose names are written in the book of life,’ the fourth bishop of Rome after Peter, if indeed the second was Linus and the third Anacletus, although most of the Latins think that Clement was second after the apostle” (Lives of Illustrious Men 15 [A.D. 396]).

“Since the East, shattered as it is by the long-standing feuds, subsisting between its peoples, is bit by bit tearing into shreds the seamless vest of the Lord . . . I think it my duty to consult the chair of Peter, and to turn to a church [Rome] whose faith has been praised by Paul [Rom. 1:8]. I appeal for spiritual food to the church whence I have received the garb of Christ. . . . Evil children have squandered their patrimony; you alone keep your heritage intact” (Letters 15:1 [A.D. 396]). A.D.

“[S]eeing that a man, baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, becomes a temple of the Lord, and that while the old abode is destroyed a new shrine is built for the Trinity, how can you say that sins can be remitted among the Arians without the coming of the Holy Ghost? How is a soul purged from its former stains which has not the Holy Ghost?” (Dialogue Against the Luciferians 6 [A.D. 382]).

“Enoch was translated in the flesh; Elias was carried up to heaven in the flesh. They are not dead, they are inhabitants of Paradise, and even there retain the members with which they were rapt away and translated. What we aim at in fasting, they have through fellowship with God.”
-Letter to Pammachius Against John of Jerusalem 29 (Written in 398 A.D.).

“There are venial sins and there are mortal sins. It is one thing to owe ten thousand talents, another to owe but a farthing. We shall have to give an accounting for an idle word no less than for adultery. But to be made to blush and to be tortured are not the same thing; not the same thing to grow red in the face and to be in agony for a long time. . . . If we entreat for lesser sins we are granted pardon, but for greater sins, it is difficult to obtain our request. There is a great difference between one sin and another” (Against Jovinian 2:30 [A.D. 393]).

“This much you must know, that baptism forgives past sins, but it does not safeguard future justice, which is preserved by labor and industry and diligence and depends always and above all on the mercy of God” (Dialogue Against the Pelagians 3:1 [A.D. 415]).

“We read in Leviticus about lepers, where they are ordered to show themselves to the priests, and if they have leprosy, then they are to be declared unclean by the priest. It is not that the priests make them lepers and unclean; rather, it is the priests who separate the leper from on who is not a leper, and they can distinguish the clean from the unclean. Just as in the Old Testament the priest separates clean from unclean, so in the New Testament the Bishop and presbyters binds or looses those who are innocent or guilty, by reason of their office when they have heard various sins and know who is to be bound or loosed.”
-Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew 3:16:19 (Written 398 A.D.)

“Heretics bring sentence upon themselves since they by their own choice withdraw from the Church, a withdrawal which, since they are aware of it, constitutes damnation. Between heresy and schism there is this difference: that heresy involves perverse doctrine, while schism separates one from the Church on account of disagreement with the bishop. Nevertheless, there is no schism which does not trump up a heresy to justify its departure from the Church” (Commentary on Titus 3:10–11 [A.D. 386]).

“If the serpent, the devil, bites someone secretly, he infects that person with the venom of sin. And if the one who has been bitten keeps silence and does not do penance, and does not want to confess his wound . . . then his brother and his master, who have the word [of absolution] that will cure him, cannot very well assist him” (Commentary on Ecclesiastes 10:11 [A.D. 388]).

“That soul which Jesus took, did it exist before He was born of Mary? Or in the virginal origin in which He was begotten of the Holy Spirit was it created simultaneously with the body? Or was it created immediately and sent down from heaven when the body was first shaped in the womb? Of these three views, I wish to know which one you hold. If it existed before He was born of Mary, then it was active in some way, and because of the merits of its virtues was afterwards made His soul. If it’s origin was simultaneous from a shoot, then the human soul, which we acknowledge as eternal, is no different from the souls of brute animals, which dissolve with their bodies. But if the soul was created and sent down at the same time that the body was formed, simply admit it and relieve our scruple.” (Against Rufinus 2:4 (Written in 401 A.D.)

“Do not marvel at the novelty of the thing, if a Virgin gives birth to God” (Commentaries on Isaiah 3:7:15 [A.D. 409]).

“Holy Mary, blessed Mary, Mother and Virgin, virgin before giving birth and virgin after giving birth! I marvel that a virgin is born of a virgin and that after the virgin’s birth, his mother remained a virgin.”
-Homilia in Joannem 1:1-14

“Simply attribute to the power of God the fact that He was born of the Virgin, and that this Virgin remained a virgin even after giving birth.”
-Homilia in Joannem 1:1-14

“Isaiah tells of the mystery of our faith and hope: Isaiah 7:14 Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel. I know that the Jews are accustomed to meet us with the objection that in Hebrew the word Almah does not mean a virgin, but a young woman. And, to speak truth, a virgin is properly called Bethulah, but a young woman, or a girl, is not Almah, but Naarah! What then is the meaning of Almah? A hidden virgin, that is, not merely virgin, but a virgin and something more, because not every virgin is hidden, shut off from the occasional sight of men. Then again, Rebecca, on account of her extreme purity, and because she was a type of the Church which she represented in her own virginity, is described in Genesis as Almah, not Bethulah. . .”
-Adversus Jiovinianum 1:32 (written in 393 A.D.)

“The heretics refused to acknowledge the mystery, which was prefigured by the Eastern door of the Temple Ezekiel 44:2, which closed again when once the High Priest (Christ) had gone through it.”
-Against the Pelagians 2:4 (written in 417 A.D.)

“Observe the cleverness of the ancient foe. He ferociously preyed upon the substance of the just man Job. . . He left him with nothing but his tongue and his wife, so that one tempted him while the other blasphemed. The devil remembered the old trick by which he had once ensnared Adam through the woman. . . thinking that he could always trap men by using a woman. But he did not consider that, if a man was ruined by a woman once, now the whole world has been saved through a woman. You are thinking of Eve, but consider Mary; the former drove us out of paradise; the latter leads us back to heaven.”
-Tractatus de Psalmo 96:1

“As the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Lord, holds the first place among all women, so, among all other days, Easter is the mother of all days.”
-In die Dominica Paschae

“The very numbers show that there is disparity in the parts of the produce, and yet in its own kind each is perfect. Elizabeth and Zacharias, whom you adduce and with whom you cover yourself as with an impenetrable shield, may teach us how far they are beneath the holiness of blessed Mary, the Lord’s Mother, who, conscious that God was dwelling in her, proclaims without reserve, Behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty has done to me great things; and holy is His name. And His mercy is unto generations and generations of them that fear Him: He has showed strength with His arm. Where, observe, she says she is blessed not by her own merit and virtue, but by the mercy of God dwelling in her.”
-Against the Pelagians Book 1:16

“Take as your example blessed Mary, whose purity was so great that she merited to be the Mother of the Lord. When the angel Gabriel came down to her, in the form of a man, and said: Hail, you that are highly favored; the Lord is with you, (Luke 1:28).”
-Epistle 22 to Eustochium 38 (Written in 384 A.D.).

“Far be it from me to speak adversely of any of these clergy who, in succession from the Apostles, confect by their sacred word the Body of Christ, and through whose efforts also it is that we are Christians; . . . But the situation of monks, as I have often suggested, is one thing, and that of clerics is another. Clerics feed the sheep. I am fed. They live off the altar. If I bring not my gift to the altar, I am, as it were, an unfruitful tree and the axe is laid to my root.”
-Letter to Heliodorus (written in 374 A.D.)

“Tell me how Jesus entered through closed doors. . . and I will explain how Saint Mary can be both Mother and Virgin. A Mother before she married, she remained a Virgin after bearing her Son. Therefore, as I started to say, the Virgin Christ and the Virgin Mary have dedicated in themselves the principles of virginity for both sexes. The Apostles were either virgins or remained continent after their marriages. Those persons chosen to be bishops, presbyters, or deacons are either virgins or widowers; or certainly, having once received the priesthood, they remain from then on chaste.”
-Letter to Pammachius 48:21 (Written in 392 A.D.)

“Before the urging of the devil gave rise to factionalism in religion, so much so that it was being said among the people, ‘I am of Paul, I am of Apollo, I of Cephas’ (1 Cor. 1:12), the churches were governed by a joint council of presbyters. After it was seen that each, when he was baptized, thought that he now belonged to the one baptizing and not to Christ, it was decreed throughout the world that one chosen from among the presbyters should be placed over the others, and the total care of the church should pertain to him. Thus were the seeds of schisms destroyed.”
-Commentaries on the Epistle to Titus 1:5 (Written 386 A.D)

“If the Apostle John was not a virgin, then for what reason was he loved by Christ more than the other Apostles? ‘But’ you will say ‘it was on Peter that the Church was founded.’ Well, in another place the same is accorded to all the Apostles, each receiving the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the strength of the Church depends equally on them all; but one among the twelve was chosen to be their head in order to remove any occasion for division. But why was John not chosen, who was a virgin? Because deference was paid to age, as Peter was the elder, lest a youth be set over men of advanced age.”
-Against Jovinian 1:26 (Written in 393 A.D.)